Luce Scholars Program

Website: Henry Luce Foundation


The Luce Scholars Program represents a major effort by the Henry Luce Foundation to provide an awareness of Asia among potential leaders in American society.

Launched in 1974, the Luce Scholars Program is aimed at a group of highly qualified young Americans in a variety of professional fields. It is unique among American-Asian exchanges in that it is intended for young leaders who have had limited experience of Asia and who might not otherwise have an opportunity in the normal course of their careers to come to know Asia. The Program provides stipends, language training and individualized professional placement in Asia for fifteen to eighteen young Americans each year.

The Luce Scholars Program coordinates scholars' professional placements within a variety of organizations, institutions, agencies, etc. Language training takes place July - August. Professional placements are Sept. - July. Placements can be made in the following countries or regions in East, South and Southeast Asia: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Timor Leste.


The intent of the program is to provide an in-depth experience in Asia to young Americans who would not otherwise have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the country where they are placed. 

  • Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  
  • Candidates may be graduating seniors, recent graduates, or young professionals under the age of 32 or, no more than three years out from receiving bachelor’s degree. 
  • Candidates who have majored in any area of study are eligible to apply (including Asian Studies, which had previously been excluded).
  • Candidates who have spent 18 weeks or more (since beginning college) in one of the countries where we place Luce Scholars are eligible to apply to be placed in a country where they do not have significant experience. 
  • Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and have earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent by the start of the Luce Scholars orientation in late June.


Selection criteria:

Successful candidates will have demonstrated significant leadership ability, intercultural competence, and evidence of potential for professional achievement. Reviewers will consider academic accomplishments; however, the Luce Scholars Program is experiential rather than academic in nature. Personal qualities such as resilience, flexibility, adaptability, maturity, humility, creativity, openness to new ideas, and sensitivity to cultural differences are as important as academic performance. 

Candidates are not judged on the basis of whether or not they have developed specific plans for their year in Asia. A candidate may have general ideas about the kind of placement preferred, but this is considered neither a negative nor positive factor in selection. 

Student Type
  • senior
  • graduate
Citizen Type
  • US Citizen
  • Permanent Resident

In past years, the Luce Scholars Program has required university nomination. The program has now eliminated that step, so applicants can apply directly to the Luce Scholars Program through the official application. However, UW does have robust and knowledgeable advising support, so take advantage of those resources! Use our advising resources to ask questions, better understand how the program works, brainstorm approaches to application materials, get feedback on drafts, prepare for the 2 sets of interviews involved in this selection process!

The online application requires:

  • Written Application – Candidates provide biographical and contact information, respond to short answer questions, and write a personal statement and 400-word-max bio. 
  • Request Forms for Two-Four Letters of Recommendation (LOR) – Candidates complete a form for each recommender. Once a form is submitted, an email is triggered to the recommender. Letters must be uploaded separately by the recommenders. LORs can be from academic, professional, or collegial references. They should come from people who know the candidate well and can speak to their skills, abilities, and potential. LORs should be signed on official letterhead whenever possible. Minimum of two letters are required, and up to four letters can be included.
  • Academic Transcripts – Candidates upload transcripts of all college and graduate work. 
  • A 1-3 Minute Video – Candidates record and upload a 1–3-minute video based on the provided prompt. The video gives program administrators a chance to get to know the candidate beyond the page. 

To start the application, please visit 

Additional Resources

Undergraduate students & alumni:

Robin Chang
Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
171 Mary Gates Hall
Phone: 206-543-2603

Graduate & professional students and alumni:

Michelle Sutton
Graduate School Office of Fellowships and Awards
G-1 Communications Bldg.
Phone: 206-543-7152


The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The Foundation builds upon the vision and values of four generations of the Luce family: broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership. A not-for-profit corporation, the Luce Foundation operates under the laws of the State of New York and aims to exemplify the best practices of responsible, effective philanthropy.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.

The Luce Foundation pursues its mission today through the following grant-making programs: American Art; East Asia; Luce Scholars; Theology; Higher Education and the Henry R. Luce Professorships; the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs; Public Policy and the Environment; and the Clare Boothe Luce Program for women in science, mathematics and engineering.

UW's Luce Scholars

  • Elena Swartz, 2017
  • Varsha Govindaraju, 2015 
  • Genevieve Gebhart, 2013
  • Jesse Burk-Rafel, 2010
  • Elizabeth Steele, 1994
  • Shelley Clarke, 1993
  • Robert McKenna, 1991
  • Douglas Hamill, 1977
  • Martha Avery, 1977


Contact Information

Luce Scholars Program contact:


UW scholarship & fellowship advising contacts:

Undergraduate students:

Robin Chang
Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards
Box 352803
171 Mary Gates Hall
Phone: 206-543-2603

Graduate students:

Michelle Sutton
Graduate School Office of Fellowships and Awards
Box 353770
G-1 Communications Bldg.
Phone: 206-543-7152